I thought with this year winding down, I'd make some predictions for the year ahead before the caucus craziness got any more out-of-hand. These are just my gut feeling on things, so don't take it too seriously.
1. The Iowa Caucus will show less than 5% difference between the top three Democrat candidates.
Everything I know tells me that this is going to be an incredibly close race. For one, I think John Edwards is being under-represented in the polls, due to his strength in the rural counties. Therefore, the caucus can go to any of the top three at this point. I predict the top three candidates will garner between 75-80% of the total, with no more than 5% difference between first and third.
2. Mike Huckabee will decisively win the Iowa Caucus
Everything suggests that nothing can stop the Huck truck at this point. All these past, uh, we'll call them “opinions”, haven't stuck to him in a way that will turn off significant numbers of Iowa caucusgoers. He'll win, and win big.
3. Ron Paul will run as a third-party candidate.
Ron Paul will have a strong showing in Iowa, New Hampshire, and nationwide. Not strong enough to win any individual state, let alone the nomination, but it will show that there is a big support base for him. I can't say whether he'll sign on with an established third party or start his own, but he will definitely continue the race.
4. Democrats will have solid gains in the House and Senate.
This one's a gimme. I'm going to say we pick up 4 in the Senate and 6 in the House. Not an Earth-shaking realignment, but solid gains nonetheless.
5. Mike Bloomberg will not run for President.
Through some backroom dealings, Mike Bloomberg will find himself dissuaded of any notion to run for President in 2008. As a result of this, I wouldn't be surprised to see him pop up in some shape or form down the line in the form of a cabinet nomination or ambassadorship, no matter which party wins.
6. A Dave Loebsack-like figure will emerge to seriously challenge or beat Tom Latham.
You'll have to forgive me for being a little Nostradamus here, but I've got the feeling that this year a strong new face will emerge in the Fightin' Fourth and seriously challenge or beat Latham. It may be someone from inside the system like McKinley Bailey or Amanda Ragan, or it might be someone from out of nowhere like Loebsack.
7. You're going to start hearing the name “Pat Grassley” a lot more.
Rep. Pat Grassley is going to emerge as one of the figureheads of the Iowa Republican party. He's kept a fairly low profile this first term as he learned the ropes, but that will soon change. He'll win re-election handily, and move up in the party power structure as he becomes increasingly groomed to take his grandfather's senate seat. Look for his name on some big legislative efforts or in some kind of position that gets his name in the press.
8. The economy will become the number one issue in the 2008 election.
My gut feeling is that as Iraq fades into the background of this election, the worsening economy will become the major issue. Christmas spending will be weaker than predicted, the sub-prime “patch” agreement put forth by President Bush will not stop the mortgage crisis, and recession talk will increase. By election time, the economy will be the foremost issue in people's minds–and the party with the stronger “economics” candidate will benefit.
9. The Democratic Convention will be seen as a much bigger success than the Republican Convention.
I think the Republicans are going to regret their decision to have the convention so late and in Minneapolis. Not only will Minnesota stay solidly blue this year, but the Democrats will have constant political fodder with linking the I-35 bridge collapse with failed Republican priorities. The Democrats' convention in Denver will be seen in a much more favorable light and result in a much bigger post-convention bump.
10. 2008 will be a good year for Iowa.
The media coverage of the caucus will show the nation how much we have grown as a state and how modern and cosmopolitan Des Moines has become. The ethanol boom will continue, and the housing crunch will largely not affect Iowa. Not to mention that the state will get a significantly bluer this year! 🙂